Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has praised and congratulated al Qaeda’s West African branch, the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), for its recent attacks on French troops in Mali.
Over the last few weeks, JNIM has killed five French soldiers across Mali in two IED blasts. An additional six troops were wounded in a suicide bombing also claimed by JNIM.
In a public statement released online, the Yemeni-based jihadist group said of the attacks that “our hearts rejoiced and our chests warmed by what our heroes JNIM did across its varied operations against French soldiers in Mali within the initiate to support our Prophet.”
AQAP goes on to further praise and justify JNIM’s actions as a method to support the Prophet Muhammad, utilizing several ahadith [sayings of Muhammad] to make its case.
The message then congratulates JNIM on behalf of the Ummah [worldwide Islamic community] and encourages the Sahelian group to continue its assaults.
JNIM has claimed the recent blasts were in ‘defense’ of the Prophet Muhammad as a response to actions the French government has taken since several Islamist attacks occurred across the country late last year.
JNIM, and many across the Muslim world, have accused France of anti-Islamic sentiments as a result.
The Yemeni group now joins both Shabaab and al Qaeda’s senior management, or general command, in publicly sending messages of support to JNIM.
In Jan. 2020, al Qaeda’s general command praised JNIM’s actions against French forces.
“Rest assure that if liberal, hedonist [and] animalistic France attains control over your lands and resources, it will spread great corruption in the land,” the statement reads. “You must realize that you are the sword of Allah that will make the French and their allies taste bitterness in the world.”
That same month, Shabaab also released a communique congratulating JNIM for thwarting “the plots of the French crusaders and turning their dreams into nightmares.”
Shabaab further added that “words cannot express the extent of our gratitude and admiration for your steadfastness, wisdom and toughness against the unbelievers and apostates.”
JNIM publicly responded to Shabaab’s message, returning the admiration between al Qaeda branches. “We follow with great interest your blessed raids and your auspicious endeavor to liberate the land of Somalia and East Africa from the direct and indirect American occupation,” JNIM said to Shabaab.
JNIM routinely considers its actions to be part of al Qaeda’s global jihad. AQAP’s recent statement provides another reminder of JNIM’s placement within al Qaeda’s international network.